Grade Scale adopted at Troll's Independent (starting from the lowest)

1 - Plop
2 - Hand-grenade
3 - Heavy-duty Shell
4 - Nuclear Explosion
5 - Troll-fart!!!

Billion Dollar Babies - Deluxe Edition
Warner Bros./Rhino Records
shock rock
"Is this man crazy or what? Why the hell is he writing about a record that is 28 years old?" some would say having read the first five lines of this review. However what I'm writing about is a Deluxe Edition of the classic Alice Cooper record with a thick booklet and a bonus disc issued just this year. I won't say much about the actual album, for everyone interested should have heard it long ago. In my opinion it is among the three best records Alice did in the 1970s. "No More Mr. Nice Guy", "Elected", "Billion Dollar Babies" and the outstanding "I Love The Dead" - they are all here. As to the bonus disc, its primary jewel is 11 live tracks recorded back in 1973 - almost the entire "Billion Dollar Babies"record with the exception of "Generation Landslide" and "Mary Ann", plus three earlier tunes. Added to them is the song "Slick Black Limousine" originally issued as a flexi-disc included with New Musical Express magazine and also available on "The Life And Crimes Of Alice Cooper" box set, as well as two outtakes - "Son Of Billion Dollar Babies" (early version of "Generation Landslide") and "Coal Black Model T" (early version of "Slick Black Limousine"). All bonus tracks are of excellent sound quality, and the booklet is very informative, so this set is a must for any Alice freak! (Maniac)


Church Of The Holy Ghost
garage speed/power

Italys Arthemis represent the traditional second-class metal music that I usually refer to as garage speed/power. This term implies poor sound quality, no outstanding musicianship and a sort of atmosphere which would be best described as true. Why is that? In the late 80s and early 90s bands that played this style really enjoyed what theyre doing and really didnt care about any trends. Now that very speed/power is a trend, and a very popular one, and it seems really useless to listen to second-class bands when there are so many masterpieces around. Church Of The Holy Ghost is a nice record, very traditional and probably even true, but its major problem is absence of any catchy choruses. Youll definitely enjoy the music while the CD is in your player, but as soon as it ends you wont be able to recall any song. The only exception is the title track, which is very melodic and beautiful, but one good song doesnt make a record worth more than three fists. Its no wonder that the record is self-produced, for even in Italy every underground label has a couple of bands playing in the same key and making records of the same value. If I had heard Arthemis back in the early 90s it would have become a favourite of mine, but now when we have Rhapsody, Labyrinth, White Skull and many more, why bother? (Maniac)

Black Beyonds Music

black/doom/dark ambient
The cover depicting three people hanged on a tree already alarmed me. However what I heard on this 70-something minute CD was much worse. It's so shitty that I can't really tell you. It's bad all over. The record features four projects, but all run by one American named John Del Russi, the man who also runs the Black Beyonds label (it is now called Charon). They play in various genres, but all suck equally hard. Let's see - the record begins with a track by Sect, which is true black metal, more or less listenable, but nothing special and one song is not enough to convince me. Mysterium is represented by two compositions, and they can be described as black metallish vocal solos accompanied by background noises. John apparently thinks this is darl ambient, but that's hardly correct. Hierophant also has two tracks on this compilation, and that's where really terrible things start. You know the song "Black Sabbath" by Ozzy, Tony & Co.? Now imagine some 15 minutes of "music" three times slower than that. These sounds are accompanied by a sort of growl, but not a single consonant can be heard. Needless to say, there's no development whatsoever in the tracks. Finally, the worst part of it - Thine Ancient Kingdom: true black, shitty recording quality and without drums! Yeah, I'm telling you, seven so-called songs without drums. This was too much for me and I turned the CD off without waiting for it to end. If John reads this he'll probably say that he's experimenting and I just don't get it. However don't believe him, he's only trying to sell you some crap. HIS WORKS ARE JUST NOT MUSIC. Even Burzum and DarkThrone have much more music than this. Take my advice, avoid this CD at any cost. (Maniac)

Strange Old Brew
Avantgarde Music
black and a bit of roll
Hell yeah! From now on Carpathian Forest should be hailed as a new hope of black metal, as their latest CD is just next to a masterpiece. Why so? First, its production is excellent, guitars have a very raw sound, but every instrument can be heard clearly and the overall impact is enormously powerful and attacking. Second, "Strange Old Brew" is incredibly diverse, probably more than any black metal record I've heard, with pieces ranging from modern black in the vain of Immortal to damn heavy black'n'roll that bring in mind similarities to Impaled Nazarene and even Venom. Third, the record is full of experiments, starting from Slayer-like riffs in "Mask Of The Slave", my favourite tune on the album, to saxopxone in "House Of The Whipcord" and a sample from a Japanese cartoon on "The Good Old Enema Treatment". Finally, its extreme agression and suicidal attitude are about to smash the listener into a thousand pieces making all arguments about true and false black metal a piece on nonsense. A great CD, but a sort of incomplete - I'll be waiting for the second part that is expected to come out this year. (Maniac)

The Encyclopedia Of Serial Murders
Razorback Records
The Japanese are known for being really perverted in their music. Nowadays most noise and grind bands are coming from Japan. Catasexual Urge Motivation play one hell of a grind core with two types of vocals, brutal guitars, programmed (sometimes almost dance-like) drums and lyrics about mass murders. Their record had to wait four years for its release, and meanwhile the band changed its name to Vampiric Motives, but the music still sounds fresh, actually, early Napalm Death records still do too. Grindcore is always very difficult to rate and review, especially if it's not the kind of music you listen everyday at breakfast. However on a day like today when everything around me seems to go out of its place this music seems more logical and easy to accept than what's going on outside my window. Probably it was intended that way, sick music for sick people, and if you feel like one, well, welcome to the club. Just don't take the lyrics too seriously, and you'll have fun, I assure you. (Maniac)

The Which Remains
Cold Meat Industry
dark ambient
Album reviewers are often accused of voicing their opinions on this or that record not even having listened to it to the end. In this particular case, I plead guilty. It's not that I didn't complete the listening of "The Which Remains" because I didn't want to. I did, and I actually tried, but after the fourth track I felt like I was starting to hate this job and thought it would be safer for my family and apartment to turn this CD off. It's not that I hate this type of music, actually I do like Mortiis and some other dark ambient bands a lot, but "The Which Remains" doesn't have a lot of music on it. It has some, or the rate would have been lower, but too little for me to appreciate. The tunes just don't develop, they have no beginning and no end and can go on like this forever. IMHO, it's extremely boring stuff, a sort of noise that bothers you when you do something and acts like valium when you listen to it attentively. And being Satanic doesn't help Coph Nia a bit, at least they fail to touch me with this sort of attitude. It's my stance that it doesn't matter whether you do Satanic or Christian music as long as you're good at it. Coph Nia can hardly be described as good, anyway, I just can't listen to them for more than 25 minutes. Sorry, guys, two points only. (Maniac)

Make Your Mind Up
Division House
The album kicks off with a totally killer track called Destroyourself which almost made me a fan of this obscure Spanish compo. The Dismal play the kind of music that can be directly compared to Red Hot Chili Peppers and Blind Passengers and a couple of tracks in Spanish bring in similiarities with Molotov. Such a combination would have been rather cool if the band did not make all compositions that are featured on Make Your Mind Up according to the same pattern. I know some of these tunes are by far better than those of Red Hot Chili Peppers, but it seems that the word diversity is out of the bands vocabulary. As a result, the CD gets the listener really bored by the end of the records first half, and the first track remained also the best on Make Your Mind Up. Ordinary but nice three fists. (Maniac)

Dont Give Me Names
Super Sonic
nu metal and much more
Our boss Troll said once that Guano Apes sound like a mixture of Limp Bitzkit and The Gathering. And even though he didnt hear Dont Give Me Names in full, I must admit that he is right. The bands first record, 1997s Proud Like A God failed to make an impression on me, it was ok, but nothing special. Dont Give Me Names is so much better I cant believe it. Guano Apes have abandoned elements of rap entirely and elements of nu-metal partially, replacing them by a good share of melancholy. As a result, they now have their own style, which is indeed very difficult to give a name to. The records highlight is the brilliant cover version of Alphaville classic Big In Japan, which is 10 times better than the original. However Guano Apes have managed to write their own material of almost equal strength, and songs like No Speech, Heaven and Dodel Up kick major ass. Sandra Nasic also did her job very well. Luckily, she does not try to rap this time and sticks to normal singing, which I consider a major advantage. Anyways, a very cool record. Not a masterpiece, but very close to it. (Maniac)

Well Of Urd
dark folk
The only background knowledge I have of this Dutch band is that they often help Hagalaz Runedance at live shows. Which is not surprising, they are labelmates and play a similar kind of music. However what differs Hekate from any other dark folk band is that their music is based on percussion, quite an innovation for this very conservative style. All other components of drak folk are present in Hekates music lots of folk elements, sophisticated melodies, beautiful male and female vocals, lyrics in English, German and French, and a great gothic atmosphere. Many bands have their components, but Hekate also have another big advantage. What I generally dislike about dark folk is that it is often too primitive. One acoustic guitar, some background noises, clean singing, and thats it. Of course a lot is compensated if a band creates powerful atmosphere, but it still gets too tiresome for me at times. With Hekate its all different, its like a small orchestra playing all over their record, a very diverse and impressive thing. What else do you want from a good CD? If dark folk is your cup of tea Hekate is a must have anyway. If not, check it out and you may really dig it too. I did, at least. (Maniac)

This Killing Emptiness
Napalm Records
This band is apparently trying to be as dark as possible. Just look at the album cover where you only see two human figures in a sort of maze, and check out song titles - Far Gone Light, Lifeless Sentiments and This Killing Emptiness, and listen to music which is a symbiosis of industrial and darkwave with a solid gothic feel. And they succeed, after all, as This Killing Emptiness is a very good record. Imagine Stronghold-era Summoning without any guitars, replace black metal screams by the indutrial distorted voice, and youll pretty much get the picture. There is nothing strange in it, as Richard Lederer, the only member of Ice Ages, also plays in Summoning, and he knows well enough how to make things gloomy and dark. Not a very accessible CD and a bit too long one, but stil a great thing for meditation and much more. (Maniac)

Maestro Beethoven
Memento Mori
neoclassic darkwave
Fans of neoclassic/darkwave should know this name, but for me "Maestro Beethoven" was the first Penitent record I heard. The CD contains nine interpretations of tunes written by the great Ludwig van Beethoven, and Penitent only did the arrangements for them. A rather unusual idea, but realised quite well. Probably if you've got used to hearing Beethoven played by many-piece orchestras, this record would seem primitive for you, since it's performed entirely on synths by one man only. However to me it was an interesting experience, the tracks do not sound simplified or machine-like at all, and the renditions are not very far from the originals. There's no problem with figuring this out, since Karsten Hamre mostly performed Beethoven's most famous stuff - "Moonlight Sonata", "Fur Elise", "Ode To Joy", etc., and even if you've never been to an opera or a classical music concert in your life, you still can appreciate his work. Recommended for the people who want to broaden their musical horizons. (Maniac)



A Predator's Portrait
Nuclear Blast
Melodic Thrash/Death

This is a competition! Style against style. In the matter of fact you can tune down your guitar, recruit 9 or more people to your band, piss at the audience at your live gigs, or you can growl in the microphone not letting anybody understand what the hell you are signing about, you can scream and say blasphemous stuff at the Pope, you can like insects and praise them in every songYOU CAN DO WHATEVER YOU WANT and your fans will like it. But the musical aspect shall be there too. You should write music. Many bands just came up with their "own and best" riff and go-on playing it in every song. This is called trademark feature. Well the shit written above was the prelude to introduce you to the new masterpiece of Soilwork "A Predators Portrait". These Swedes play music. It is metal, it is melodic thrash/death metal - call it whatever you want to. Excellent soloing, husky and a bit of clean vocals, breakthrough drumming, songs you CAN distinguish one from another (my favorite are "Needlefeast", "Final Fatal Force" and "A Predator's portrait"). Now I can't make it clear for myself what I like more Gardenian "Sindustries" or this one. Sorry, I can't grope for words anymore - go and listen to Soilwork - they are far than worth to. (Felix Da Katt)


Feasting on Blood
The Plague/Hammerheart
Brutal grind

Have you ever wanted to work as an asphalt grinder? Imagine you work in such noise conditions - what can make your work more vivid, what can make your work bring you more pleasure? Of course good music. But there is a slight problem - you can't here a single word in your Walkman, for example. But you like good harsh metal stuff - don't ya? Then Severe Torture is definitely for you. Band plays excellent brutal grind with understand-no-single-word vocals. But what distinguishes them from many others is very good guitar play - you can hear bass line throughout the songs (and that's in meat music!) and drumming is like a cluster of bullets riddling your bullet-proof vest - very painful and adrenaline provoking. Lyrics. Consider song titles like "Baptized in Virginal Liquid" or "Vomiting Christ" or "Decomposing Bitch". The album cover is also very ehhhtouchy. A huge monster, a lot of blood, corpses etc. The album ends up with the warning: "God has nothing to do with this". To crown it all - meat of the highest category, but for brutalfans only. (Felix Da Katt)

Recipe Ferrum!
Avantgarde Music
totally sick music
My beloved Hungary, once the home of many outstanding art and progressive rock bands such as Omega, Locomotiv GT and Karthago, is now turning into sanctuary for all things sick and morbid. This is mostly due to the activities of singer Atilla (ex-Mayhem) who currently leads two of the sickest bands I've heard - dancefloor/industrial one-man project Plasma Pool and metal four-piece Tormentor. As far as I remember, Atilla came to Norway in the early 1990s to release Tormentor's first record on the label owned by Euronymous, so that record apparently had something to do with black metal. "Recipe Ferrum!" has nothing in common with black, except vocals, musically-wise, it's folk-influenced heavy metal. And it is played in such a perverted manner that I really don't know whether Tormentor are serious at what they're doing. If they are, they must be sick all over, and if they're just having fun, they've got a really sick sense of humour, so it's a sick record anyway. Terrifying vocals, sudden rhythm and tempo changes, grotesque folk pieces and an atmosphere of total absurd. I guess the store where I bought the record was more or less right in labelling it "sarcastic metal". I decided to keep this CD, as this is something I've never heard and am unlikely to hear in the near future, but I don't think that I will listen to it again sometime soon. Anyway, "Recipe Ferrum!" deserves a spin by everyone willing to find out how sick people can go. (Maniac)

Neurot Records
Just yesterday I was surfing on the web and saw a posting on a message board saying that its author never trusted album reviewers and preferred to borrow all the latest stuff from his friends to make up his own opinion on everything. Well, the man apparently has friends from record stores, I figure! But seriously, this is the record you MUST borrow from your friend before you buy it. When the CD stopped spinning I found out that I don't really know what to say about it. It's avantgarde, and I don't consider myself knowledgeable enough in this sphere of music to rate "Naptanc". Probably it's very good, but I just can't tell good from bad in avantgarde. Thus, I'll just give you a general idea of what you'll find on the record, and you'd better think for yourself if you're interested. Vagtazo Halottkemek are a Hungarian band that was founded for almost 20 years ago. Their early years were a constant fight with the authorities, since the bloody Commies got frightened by the band's music and forbode it to play live anywhere. Nevertheless, the band survived and its records were later released by respectable Western labels such as Alternative Tentacles and Neurot (this one's owned by Neurosis). The music on "Naptanc" is based on tribal rhythms complete with clean, but very emotional vocals, packed with distorted folk elements and influences from jazz. Nothing to do with metal and only something with rock. Intrigued? (Maniac)

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